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BASS PRO CHIEF GIVES NEW HOPE FOR STORE HERE

As the wait for an announcement regarding a Bass Pro store for Buffalo drags on, there are fresh signs the company is getting closer to making its choice official.

Speaking to business leaders in Central New York Thursday night, Bass Pro President Jim Hagale reiterated his company's interest in setting up shop in Buffalo. Hagale told members of the Cayuga County Chamber of Commerce a Buffalo store will not "adversely impact" the five-month-old Bass Pro outlet in Auburn, according to a report in the Citizen, Auburn's daily newspaper.

Buffalo Mayor Anthony M. Masiello said he was ecstatic to learn the Bass Pro executive was publicly discussing the chain's interest in locating a huge Outdoor World store in the mothballed Memorial Auditorium in downtown Buffalo.

"To have him talking about a Buffalo store is just great news, especially when he's talking to a constituency that is already seeing great economic benefits from having a Bass Pro," Masiello said.

Nearly six months have passed since state economic development officials offered the sporting goods giant an inducement package said to total more than $80 million. While federal, state and local officials have indicated the parties are making progress, the long wait has led to doubts the blockbuster project will ever become a reality.

"Nobody wants to see this happen more than I do," Masiello said. "But this is a very complex and unique project with many moving parts and it can't be rushed."

The mayor, who earlier this year forecast the deal might be announced by the Fourth of July, is now predicting a late fall decision.

As the Buffalo area awaits that outcome, Toronto-area residents will see the opening of the first Canadian Bass Pro store on Nov. 4.

Johnny Morris, Bass Pro's chairman and founder, and Hagale are scheduled to cut the ribbon on a 140,000-square-foot Outdoor World store in the new Vaughan Mills Mall northwest of the city.

The exterior entrance of the store is built to resemble an oversized Algonquin lodge, with massive timber construction, and a three-story stone fireplace.

e-mail: slinstedt@buffnews.com

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